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Senate approval would change Ohio child support collections

Ohio lawmakers have given partial approval to the governor's state budget plan and, with it, the okay to move ahead with a new support enforcement measure. Others states collect overdue child support through gambling winnings and Ohio is a Senate vote away from doing the same. Proponents of House Bill 483 say the proposal benefits children.

Single Columbus parents and parents who've been through a divorce may be familiar with the state's support enforcement methods. Income withholding compels employers to deduct support from employees' regular pay and bonuses. When that doesn't work, stronger measures are taken.

A court may notify a parent that a driver's license suspension is imminent unless payments are made. The courts target parents who have not paid at least half of monthly support payments over 90 days in a row. Lottery winnings also may be seized.

The new legislation would allow child support to be collected from racino and casino winnings. Some gambling proceeds already are taxed as income by the Internal Revenue Service. The state would capitalize on that information to get parents to clear child support debts, even when it means seizing all winnings.

The law or ones like it already exist in other states. With the law's approval, projections say that another $1 million or more might be collected annually statewide for child support. Legislation would require casinos and racinos to withhold winnings until a winner's name is checked with state records. Casino officials agreed this wouldn't be difficult to do, since casinos already perform similar functions for tax purposes.

Sixty-eight percent of all child support ordered by Ohio courts – equivalent to about $1.3 billion -- was collected in 2013. A gambling winnings law may increase collections to 70 percent in a little over a year. Non-custodial parents who have difficulty making payments may avoid collections' issues by working with an attorney and the court to modify a support agreement.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, "Casino jackpots in Ohio might be seized for child support" Catherine Candisky, May. 07, 2014

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